A Day at the Beach, or Maybe A Week

For as long as I can remember I’ve had the opportunity to take an annual vacation at the beach. Growing up in Georgia that usually meant the Florida coast, particularly the gulf coast somewhere around St. Petersburg. Of course, that was back in the day when Florida was covered up in mom and pop motels. You were really in a special place if there was a pool, and of course you were only interested in places that were on the beach.

I remember one year when we got a huge place that was on the second floor of a building toward the back of a small motel. I thought it was magical because we could see the ocean from where we were and the owners of the property had the coolest dog who was addicted to ice. The dog was so smart you couldn’t even spell i-c-e if you didn’t want him to know what you were getting, you had to spell in backward.

Our family went to the beach every year for a week, and it never felt long enough. Sometimes we would have extended family join us, but more often than not it was me, my brother and my parents. Since both my brother and I have red hair and are extremely fair we were restricted to being outside before 10:00 AM and after 4:00 PM. Sunbathing wasn’t something we were ever allowed to try and our first swim of the day, always in the ocean, was before breakfast in the early morning light. Perhaps I have that to thank now for the remarkably low incidence of skin cancer I’ve ever encountered. Every dermatologist I’ve ever met has expressed surprise that I haven’t been more plagued by it. Of course, I resented my parents for being so strict back then, but now I have to say I am thankful.

As an adult, my husband and I continued the tradition. When were first married we didn’t have to travel since he was in the Coast Guard and we were stationed in Key West for almost three years. When his four year commitment was up we moved back to Georgia, back to work and more school, back to more conventional lives. Still, we found time every year to take a vacation to the beach. Not long after we moved back to Georgia, we also discovered the panhandle area of Florida and Alabama, with its crystal clear water and sugar shore beaches. We traded the mom and pop motels for condos rented from owners, but still insisted on a unit that was oceanfront, with a balcony. That way for the bulk of the day, I could see the water, but avoid being out in the brutal sun. Yep, by the time I was old enough to make my own decisions I had learned the wisdom of my parent’s approach to limited time in the sun and the addition of some serious sunscreen.

Even now, although we live in Coastal Georgia, we still like traveling to the beach, renting that beachfront condo and relaxing. Is it any wonder, then, that I wanted to read NO MORE TIME by Suzanne Trauth. This series features Dodie O’Dell, who manages a restaurant in a small New Jersey town and is privy to the activities of the local community theater group whose predominant female actress is Dodie’s best friend. I had already enjoyed an earlier book, in part because there was an element of community theater and acting. Add the beach to that and I expected a real winner. Here’s my review.

In this novel, Dodie O’Dell, series protagonist, is on vacation at the Jersey shore, accompanied by her boyfriend, Police Chief Bill Thompson. While Dodie and Bill have come to spend two weeks at the shore, except when he is required to return home for a few days, she learns early on that she will be joined once again by the people from the local community theater, the Eatonville Players. They have been selected to participate in a community theater contest being held at a theater in the beach town where Dodie is vacationing.

As the book begins the reader is introduced to Dodie’s former boyfriend who materializes on the porch of her rental cottage. A leftover hippie type, Jamie is so lovably quirky Dodie and Bill allow him to stay and camp out on their porch. Almost at the same time Jamie’s old partner Vinnie, now going by the name Vincent, appears. Vinnie, Jamie and Dodie were good friends in the past, but now Vinnie seems to have undergone a transformation although Dodie doesn’t understand the changes. He seems to have gone from a hard partying, good time guy to a major business mogul now. Not long after seeing Vinnie, he is murdered on his yacht.

Dodie determines she needs to solve the mystery of how Vinnie became Vincent and who murdered him as Jamie is considered a prime suspect and she is convinced that isn’t true. In her attempt to find the answers, Dodie question several of the people she’s met through the theater contest, and develops some strong suspicions as a result.

Meanwhile, Bill’s pride and joy, his gold BMW, is stolen. He spends time checking on the investigation with a friend who is part of a special task force trying to bring down an auto theft ring. Levity is provided in the form of various quirky characters who are part of the Eatonville Community Theatre. They are an on-going part of this series and readers who like to watch relationships unfold may enjoy reading the series in order. The mystery for this book stands alone, however, and there is enough information about the characters that the reader will have no problem figuring out relationship nuances.

Overall, this is a fun, easy book to read. It’s the perfect thing to take to the beach if you want a book that is a little mystery, a little fun, and a little romance. It was not hard to figure out who was the villain of the piece, but it was still enjoyable for a light read. The book is well written with ample clues and red herrings to increase the reader’s enjoyment. Be prepared to suspend some disbelief in terms of Dodie’s activities as she investigates. She has a miraculous ability to put herself in dicey situations and then manage to extricate herself. Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing me an Advanced Digital Reader copy in exchange for an unbiased review. 

So, there you have it. Whether in the northeast United States or one of the beaches below the Mason Dixon Line, a trip to the beach or a vacation for a few days. I’m ready to go again, especially if I can find enough time and a condo that will let me hear and see the ocean whenever I want. There’s a bonus in it if I can sip on a cup of coffee on a private balcony and double bonus if there are some dolphins in the water, but that’s a thought for another blog. For now, I’ll just say Happy Reading.